by Anna Malczyk on 16/08/11 at 7:59 am
Many people dream of a job in events planning. It’s an exciting career that involves creating memorable occasions, which can be anything from private children’s parties to lavish weddings and high-powered business conferences. If you love organising, problem solving, working with people and doing something a little different every day, event planning may be the career for you. It’s also an excellent industry to start your own business in – most event planners are individuals who manage events on their own or in small teams, and there are no special qualifications or business requirements that need to be met.
Find a focus
Most aspiring events planners have a specific focus in mind for their business – creating charming small weddings, for example, or developing luxury business getaways for top CEOs. While it is possible to be a generalist event planner, focusing on one specific type or category of event will make your company easier to promote, will mean you build up business contacts more quickly, and is usually more enjoyable. Once you’ve built a strong business with a single focus, you can branch out later into other areas.
At this point, you should do a lot of research on the planning industry in your region or focus area. Make sure that there is sufficient demand for your services before you launch your business. Also see if there are any gaps in the market – your research might give you great ideas, like marketing to a specific price bracket, or planning events in an up-and-coming area.
Go through the formalities
Starting a business is a relatively easy process, but you will need to fulfil all the appropriate formalities before you can start trading. These include choosing a business name, registering for certain taxes, obtaining permits (for example, you need special permits if you sell food or alcohol) and picking a business “type”. The three available business types are sole proprietorships (you are the only owner and are liable for all the business’ debts), partnerships (a group of partners own the business and are jointly liable for debts) and a company (a complex form of business that has a separate legal identity, meaning you are not liable for any debts). In most cases, you will pick one of the first two, depending on whether you are going into business alone or with others. However, speak to a business advisor or do some research of your own to ensure that you make the right decision.
Once you’ve officially created your business, you need to start the exciting and challenging process of marketing yourself. First, you will need to have a logo, a business “look and feel” (the colours, tone and overall impression that your business makes), and a marketing budget for exposure like print advertising and attending trade shows. Before you start marketing, you must define your target market – the group of people you have created your service for and who are your ideal customers. For example, a funky alternative wedding planner will target young, unconventional urban couples. On the other hand, someone who organises luxury business seminars will focus on an older, more traditional and wealthier market.
These days, it is essential that you set up a website for your business, and you will probably benefit from marketing yourself on social networks like Facebook and Twitter too. Most of your potential customers will search for an events planner on Google, so make sure that you have a web presence so that you will be easily found.
Then, try to come up with other creative ways to market your services. Perhaps you could offer a substantially discounted rate for the first five bookings, hold a competition to win an event planned by you, or offer to plan a friend or family member’s event for free so that you can take photos and spread your name by word of mouth.
Once you’ve got a few clients together, you can start the actual work of planning events – good luck!
Anna Malczyk is a member of the academic department of GetSmarter, a specialist online training firm. GetSmarter works together with University of Cape Town to present short courses in small business management, project management, internet marketing, financial management and more. View more articles by Anna Malczyk.